Great God Almighty, I’m done with summer. All – repeat: ALL – of my once lovely perennials are crispy, wilted and dead and I don’t care. The mosquitoes have taken over the yards and porches with an even more hostile aggression than usual (seriously, I think one called me a bitch last night as it whizzed by my neck). My happy place, the screened porch, looks like a booth at a flea market because the heat has zapped my will to pick up after my husband and kids that treat it like a mud room.  The dog needs a good brushing and bath worse than a POW. My curls have been plastered to my head like an Irish water spaniel’s for weeks now and I work up a full blown lather just loading the kids in the car at 7’oclock in the morning.

I’m a born and bred Southern girl and I’m used to the heat and humidity but this time each year I just give up.  I turn my back on the yard, grilling, even swimming in the pool and choose to hold up in the house with a cool beverage instead and observe the rest of the world through the windows of my air-conditioned house.  I’m biding my time until September brings a little relief.

With my retreat from the great outdoors have come a few alternatives to grilling that you might like.  As far as I’m concerned that grill of mine can vaporize into the suffocating gate to Hell that is my back yard.

Oven Barbequed Salmon

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 6 salmon fillets
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray

Mix first 3 ingredients well.  Add juice mixture and salmon fillets to a zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in shallow dish and mix well.  Spray a large baking sheet or pan with cooking spray.  Dredge tops of salmon fillets in spice mixture and place on prepared pan.  Bake at 400° for 15-17 minutes.

This next recipe is from Sunset magazine.  I made it exactly as the recipe is written and it was TA DIE FOR!  This recipe requires a lot of time to cook properly.  Read and follow the recipe carefully and you will have an excellent alternative for Labor Day.

After the meat rested thoroughly, I sliced all of it and added it back to the pan to hang out in the juices.  I served this buffet style at a neighborhood ditty we had it was a HUGE success.

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

  • 1 fresh pork shoulder (6-7 lbs)
  • 1 head garlic (2 1/2 oz.)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 11/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 onion (10 oz.), peeled and sliced
  • 1 carrot (4 oz.), rinsed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup oloroso or cream sherry
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot chile flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Rinse pork and pat dry.  Separate and peel garlic cloves. In a mortar and pestle, crush garlic, salt, oregano, thyme, and pepper into a coarse paste (or mince garlic, then mix with salt, herbs, and pepper). Rub garlic paste all over roast. Set roast on a rack in an oiled 9- by 13-inch roasting pan.

Roast uncovered in a 450° oven until deep golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and scatter onion and carrot slices around pork. Pour 1/4 cup sherry and 2 cups broth into pan. Add chile flakes. Baste pork with some of the pan juices. Cover pan with lid or tightly fitted aluminum foil. Reduce oven temperature to 225° and bake 8 to 9 hours. If pork is done before you’re ready to serve, reduce oven temperature to 160° and hold in oven up to 4 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, transfer pork to a carving board.  Cover pork loosely and set in a warm place. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup sherry and 2 cups broth into the roasting pan (drippings will be dark) and set on a burner over high heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour through a wire strainer set over a bowl, pressing on vegetables (discard vegetables); you should have 1 to 1 1/3 cups drippings.  Stir in vinegar.

Slice meat across the grain and arrange on platter. Drizzle about a fourth of the pan juices over meat; serve remaining to add to taste.

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy Richburg Rivers

Mandy lives in Lexington, South Carolina, is a contributing writer for the Food & Drink section and is currently working on her first cookbook. Mandy is an award winning recipe writer and judges regional cook-offs and other culinary contests.

“I'm just a gal that likes food. Of course I like to eat, but what I've discovered about myself over the years is that there are more ways for me to enjoy food than just eating it. I like to shop for it, read about it, cook it, entertain with it and write about it. And when it's really good, sometimes I'm tempted to throw it on the floor and roll in it."